M Ravi suspension due solely to mental condition: Singapore Law Society

Lawyer M Ravi arrives at State Courts with a client in Singapore in this 2013 file photo. (Yahoo file photo)

[UPDATED on Thursday, 12 Feb 2015 at 7:37am: Adding new response from LawSoc, information from medical report]

Singapore's Law Society president on Wednesday responded to allegations that it had political motivations behind suspending local human rights lawyer M Ravi, insisting his mental condition was the only reason for their move.

This after it confirmed the order was served on him on Tuesday, where it said it would allow him to continue pending a mental health examination confirming his ability to do so.

Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi told national broadsheet The Straits Times that the Law Society's decision to issue Ravi the directive "is based solely on the council's concerns that the present state of Mr Ravi's mental condition impairs his fitness to practise law."

"The Law Society is an independent body and does not engage in assisting or hindering any of its members in any political aspirations they may have," Thio reportedly said. "The council owes a duty to the public and to its members to ensure that all practising lawyers in Singapore are not impaired by any physical or mental condition which affects their fitness to practise."

The 43-year-old was shown on Wednesday in a roughly 12-minute video uploaded to YouTube visiting the Law Society's office in a scene where he asserted that his suspension was triggered by his announcement of his keenness to stand for election.

The Straits Times also reported details of Ravi's mental health report by his psychiatrist, Dr Munidasa Winslow, who on 2 February had written that he was in a "hypomaniac" phase of his bipolar disorder — a condition causing elevated moods and periods of depression that he was diagnosed with in 2006.

In this phase, a sufferer undergoes persistent disinhibition, a pervasive euphoric or irritable mood, that manifests itself in extremely energetic, talkative, and confident behaviour.

Dr Winslow had reportedly written, "I would like to have had him in hospital under observation, however he is not agreeable at this time and has promised to take adequate rest and follow up with all medications."

Ravi was given medical leave by Dr Winslow from that day to 6 February, where he appeared in the High Court to represent a client in an appeal.

In 2012, there was a confrontation between him and a Law Society official who showed up in a court hearing he was directly involved in. The latter had brought a letter from Ravi's doctors saying he was unfit for practice. He filed and later, dropped, a defamation suit against the Law Society, later agreeing to stricter monitoring of his mental health condition.